Hell was marching on our doorstep, and chaos was seemingly unleashed upon the city.
People – unarmed citizens – were running through the streets, screaming and trying to get away from the terror above and below. With every loud explosion, something came crashing down while the bombings continued throughout San Francisco. Just two months ago, things were quiet and peaceful, even a happy time for me since finish college, but now…I just wish it never happened.
I managed to get myself out of the apartment with only a bag slung around me, before I started racing down the street. I was sure I wasn’t going to make it until I heard the screeching sounding of a motorcycle in the distant. There wasn’t much I could see, if I just stopped and stared, since the fires broke out and began to engulf the city in flames, but I knew it was Gabriel.
It was a stupid intuition, but it kept me going in the same direction. Passing dead bodies and cries from people trapped under debris, I felt a lot of my own self dying along with them.
“God, what’s happening?” Everything had just completely changed in the blink of an eye.
When Gabe came into view on that old, red motorcycle of his, I stopped in my steps and just watched him come towards my still figure. I don’t think I ever loved anyone more in that moment.
“Gwen!” he shouted, his bike coming to a screeching halt in front of me. I smiled tearfully in return. “Get on!” he screamed as another bomb hit a building, just behind us.
He passed me his helmet as I latched myself to his back. I kissed his check before I put it on and laid my head against his back. He skidded off, driving towards the end of our life in the city.
I had no idea what was happening back in New Mexico with Mom, Dad, and Jon, but I prayed for their safety, even though the only determination on my mind at that moment was to get out with Gabe and find somewhere safe. When we made it to the Golden Gate Bridge, we swerved our way through cars and people running to get the other end. I watched as some mothers held onto their children while pushing through the struggling and screaming crowd, and husbands latching onto their wives as their last minutes of life drew too close. I saw some people just give up altogether and standing ghostly still, staring back from where Gabe and I came from, watching the disaster unfoled and grow towards them.
I don’t think I’d ever forget that – not as long as I live.
But despite the speed we were travelling at, we weren’t out of harm’s way and by the time we made it past the bridge, I saw our deaths dawn upon us as bombs destroyed buildings above us. They came down and I clutched on for dear life when Gabriel swerved unintentionally when an explosion went off, caused by a falling telephone pole, and, in a split second, he got away and ended up swinging us into another direction. Away from the falling structures and immense flames.
The turn threw me to one side of a street, my arms and legs bleeding and my helmet’s plating being to fall apart. I quickly discarded it and tried to look around, despite my stiff neck. And Gabe…he was opposite me, lying broken beside his bike upon bricks and fallen cement.
“Gabriel!” I cried out the second I saw him. I ran to him, fearing the worst. When I looked into his sad, blue eyes that I loved so much, I knew it was too late for him – and that the metal he landed on pierced through his body. I saw blood…he was bleeding, heavily. Oh God, he was bleeding.
“Gabe…” I whispered, cradling his head. “Go, Gwenie,” he said, just as quiet and mournfully, “Hurry up and get out of here.”
“No! I can’t…You’re still alive, I can…”
He smiled. “I know, but please…I love you, but go. I’ll never forgive myself if you die here.” He slowly lifted his hand and drew my head down for one final, sweet kiss that said so much, but didn’t last long enough.
“I love you. Go.” My body wasn’t listening to my screaming thoughts when I stood up before him and started to run. My legs were shaking, but I still moved on and I…and I couldn’t look back. Not back at him.
I never forgave myself for…just leaving him like that, but what I decided to do after that fateful day…I hoped it would make Gabe proud.
I joined the Marine Corps for him…
For Mom and Dad, and Jon and little Rachel.
I’m not looking for revenge, but...this was the least I could do for Gabriel. For everyone who died.